Today we learned that Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger have agreed to an amicable separation. Some are shocked that this could happen after 25 years together, others just do not understand how there can be any amicable divorces. Of course, I am not suprised by either possibility as this is part of my every day life.

In my experience, the top five reasons people split are as follows:

(1) lack of communication;

(2) bad conflict-resolution skills;

(3) they grow apart, pursuing different interests or goals;

(4) intimacy issues; and

(5) an irreparable loss of trust and respect.

Realizing that these issues exist often takes time, and then many try to ignore the problems or just hope that it is a phase that will go away shortly. As time passes, many are willing to stick with the status quo in order to avoid change– it seems transitions are not just a challenge for toddlers. Unfortunately, as is true with any problem that does not get addressed right away, these issues just get worse.

Small communication issues eventually lead to a complete break down in conversations; on-going battles that end badly lead to resentment; if you do everything separately, eventually someone will ask why even bother staying together? Intimacy issues left unattended will lead someone to go astray; and if you lose trust and respect, the next thing to happen will be to fall out of love.

People tend to focus a lot on the symptoms of a bad marriage– like an affair, and they often mistake that as the reason for a divorce. For those of us that are in the divorce business, we see it differently. Luckily, there are many incredibly mature, insightful clients that are able to see the actual causes for the breakdown of their marriage, and they can also appreciate that they want to end their partnership in a respectful, dignified fashion. In fact, the statistics show that 33% of all couples will choose a Cooperative/Collaborative divorce, whereas only 20% of all divorces are considered high-conflict. That leaves the other 47% to fill in the spectrum in between, and it is my sincere hope that with the right guidance, they will gravitate as much as possible towards a collaborative/cooperative divorce.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.